Boys’ Love – Fantasy, romance, smut
1 Volume (complete)
Media Do (Printemps Publishing)
All inns have visitors, but at Amano’s workplace, they don’t just house normal guests: spirits and deities come to relax from their eternal existence. Amano is put in charge of serving their latest guest: the king of the everlasting world, Tsukuyomi. Amano is taken aback when he sees Tsukuyomi’s face, as the king looks like his old friend. But there’s no way Tsukuyomi could be connected to Amano’s missing friend, right?
Warning: this review is of a series that is recommended for ages 18+ and is not safe for work!
Midday Moon is a great read minus two caveats.
First off, about 20% of this book involves shorts about characters from the author’s work Zhenniao. While that isn’t a huge amount, it’s significant enough that you should at least consider waiting. As of this writing, I haven’t read Zhenniao, so I ended up mostly skipping it. It seems like most of the content shouldn’t be unexpected, but there’s still some name dropping and a whole fantasy world that I knew nothing about. So it might be worth buying Zhenniano first. If you have already read it, pick Midday Moon up for some more adventures with the characters.
The second major annoyance is discussed in the Translation section.
Amano works at an inn that often hosts gods, youkai, and such. These spirits live in the everlasting realm and are immortal, but they occasionally visit the human’s transient realm. The inn’s latest guest is a real VIP: the king of the realm of Others. But Tsukuyomi’s face is remarkably similar to Amano’s old friend Mitsuki, who disappeared when they were teens. Amano saw Mitsuki jump off a cliff after kissing him and be absorbed by something that wasn’t the water. Of course, no one believed him, and Mitsuki’s body was never recovered. Amano was mentally and physically lost when the inn’s owner took him in. When Amano learns that Tsukuyomi once was human and that “Tsukuyomi” is both a name and a title, part of him is curious about Tsukuyomi. At the same time, he’s miserable! Tsukuyomi’s room is full of smoke, and he keeps ordering Amano around.
Midday Moon‘s ethereal, mythological Japanese setting involving spirits reminds me of manga like Kamisama Kiss, The Demon Prince of Momochi House, and xxxHolic. Midday Moon does partially take place in the everlasting realm so that we see goblin- and fox-like creatures, and I like seeing their interactions with their dear king. (And Amano getting scolded by Tsukuyomi’s attendants.) It’s the sort of thing that, while Amano and Tsukuyomi’s relationship is the focus, I wish we could have seen more of in a longer series.
Speaking of the length, Midday Moon is six chapters long, but they’re sort of paired off. The first two, for instance, reads like that’s the whole story. The second chapter ends in a way like the story is a new legend being started, with readers left to imagine Amano and Tsukuyomi’s reunion and life. But the third has Amano arriving in the everlasting realm. The next two chapters are then more explicit, going from PG-13 to NC-17 including a sexual bet. The final two chapters are more like reflections and reminisces, so they have an ever deeper melancholic, nostalgic feeling to them. The sexual content also goes down to about an R level.
But Midday Moon is a beautiful story about a man who has been lost after his best friend’s sudden disappearance and sudden kiss. Tsukuyomi is the bossy sort, but most of his demands are not shown directly; we just see a haggard Amano. This behavior is likely a sort of coping mechanism for him, as Tsukuyomi has no memories of his previous self and is forced to inhale the awful air of the everlasting realm day in and day out. Tsukuyomi also tries to force Amano away, as he knows the everlasting realm is not a place for humans. He occasionally has a sense of deja vu at times and relays this to Amano.
But Amano remains by Tsukuyomi’s side, remaining silent as he learns pieces of Tsukuyomi’s past and not burdening his lover as Tsukuyomi starts forgetting their times together. Readers of Midday Moon will get the full story on Tsukuyomi’s past and ascension as the next king, and Amano will have gathered most of it. It all comes together to create a beautiful tale that combines sacrifice and embracing the now. Neither say the words “I love you” — and Tsukuyomi arguably wouldn’t fully understand romantic love — but readers won’t have any doubt as to the strength of their connection.
The story isn’t the only thing that’s beautiful. The Japanese-inspired visuals brings out the gorgeous aesthetics of the inn and Tsukuyomi’s clothing. Monzen’s style has a pencil sketch-like quality to give it that old-fashioned feel. While the story may make you think it’s depressing, the manga is bright and has some good comedy shots. There were a couple of weaker drawings including one where Tsukuyomi’s eyes look too far back and nose too pointed in a profile. I like how the author avoided making Amano emotional to contrast with Tsukuyomi’s more normally neutral or scowling face. It helps show how much this whole situation has weighed on his mind over the years and avoids the usual “opposites attract” trope.
There are a lot of nice fonts out there. That doesn’t mean they should be used for text in any form of comics. Like the one in Midday Moon; it’s like Comic Sans crossed with Arial. Might be fine for handwriting text, but as dialogue… eesh.
Then the other problem is sometimes the text gets really small. Like to about an 8 point font. I had to put down my iPad at times because I felt like I was straining my eyes too much. Yes, yes, I know you can zoom in, but two things. First, I like to look at a whole page, not waste my time adjusting panels and moving the page around to read. Second, I shouldn’t have to! I’m reading this on a 9.7″ screen, not an 5″ phone. It doesn’t start off that bad, then all of a sudden, the font shrinks a couple of points. Plus, as I said in the beginning, it’s not a normal font used in graphic novels. I mean, I don’t hate Comic Sans as much as the Internet does in general (in fact, when I write posts, editor shows up as Comic Sans for paragraphs), but combined with the small font, it’s a pain on the eyes.
Also, it always bothers me when someone who’s considered a king is address as “Your Highness” — use “Your Majesty”!
Midday Moon should probably be read after Zhenniao and on a large screen with easy zoom, but it’s otherwise both a heartwarming and heartaching read.
Zhenniao, also by Monzen, is available through Media Do.
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